Saturday, July 02, 2016

Clinton email investigation in its last throes

After 3.5 hours answering questions posed by FBI investigators, Hillary Clinton has just about finished skating over the thin ice.

Given what we know now, an indictment doesn’t seem likely. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews noted, prosecutors would need evidence not just that Clinton sent classified information outside secure government networks, but that she did so knowing that it was supposed to be classified.

Clinton has denied this, insisting any classified material in the emails was either classified after the fact or she did not realize it had been classified — a position she likely reiterated today to the FBI.

This would contradict my 'murder/manslaughter' post, and doesn't really explain exactly why she'd be in the clear if some of those emails were "born classified".  But hey, they're probably lawyers and know more than I do.

Despite the right wing media's obsession with false accounts regarding the Clinton email server, most credible accounts state the chances of the former Secretary of State facing any legal action or an indictment are miniscule.

Others are saying the same thing.  With the Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton chat on the Phoenix tarmac earlier this past week, the matter got unnecessarily murkier.  One person has the power to clear it all up.

FBI Director James Comey is now firmly in the driver’s seat of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, after Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged she would accept whatever course of action his bureau and career prosecutors recommend.


“Comey is the center of gravity on this thing,” said Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director and president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

“There is a growing expectation that we the public need to hear the FBI, Jim Comey version of whether or not charges will be brought,” he added. “There has probably been increasing recognition by her that that’s true, that she is viewed as — regardless of her prior reputation as an effective prosecutor — she’s now the head of Obama’s DOJ, a political position in a Democratic administration that is deciding on the prosecution or not of the leading Democratic candidate.”


The decision (by Lynch to accept the recommendations of investigators) puts the spotlight squarely on Comey, a Republican who is widely respected by GOP lawmakers and known for a streak of independence.

“He is a pro’s pro,” said Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney and head of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a watchdog group. “And I think this takes the pressure off of him that whatever the FBI recommends will be followed, where before I am certain he would be concerned that there will be political interference from the attorney general.”

There’s still a chance that FBI investigators and Justice Department lawyers, who are working on the case together, arrive at different conclusions on how to proceed.

The FBI has a tendency to be more aggressive with cases, whereas prosecutors might be more reluctant to push a charge they are not absolutely certain will stick — especially if the next presidency might be at stake.

“I could easily envision a scenario in which the FBI concludes there is enough evidence to make a case, but the DOJ prosecutors decide that the case is too weak to risk the legal precedent,” Bradley Moss, a lawyer who handles national security and secrecy issues, wrote in an email to The Hill.
“The DOJ career prosecutors are truly the ones who are under the microscope at this point.”

In the federal case against former CIA Director David Petraeus last year, FBI officials reportedly pushed for him to be indicted on felony charges, but then-Attorney General Eric Holder downgraded them to misdemeanors.

Yet Comey is no shrinking violet. If he is ultimately overruled by officials within the Justice Department, that is unlikely to remain a secret.

Potentially incriminating news has “a way of getting out,” said Whitaker.

“I would imagine ultimately we will know how the investigation was conducted or whether there was interference from the political folks at the Department of Justice,” he added.

“But I don’t know whether it will be in time to have an impact in an election year.”

She's almost out of the briar patch.

No comments: